Thursday, February 27, 2014

Modern day slaves wear bikinis



Over a year ago, when we still lived in Southern California, I witnessed something really disturbing.

It took me months to make sense of it.

My family and I were at the beach, my favorite one in fact. It is public beach that runs in front of the most expensive and fancy resort in South Orange County. The beach is unbelievably beautiful there, and we saw dolphins, pelicans and all sorts of wildlife every time we visited. That's one reason it was my favorite.

But this particular day, it was off season, and it was freezing. Well, not Montana freezing, but California freezing. Grey skies, overcast and misty, I was still shivering in my sweatshirt. Everyone on the beach was wearing layers; it was a day to stroll and feel the sea air in your hair, but certainly not to get a tan or go in the frigid water.  

Because it was notoriously beautiful there, often we'd see huddles of people posing for engagement photos or the annual Christmas card. Overcast days were great for photo shoots, so I wasn't too surprised to see a group of four stroll past us, two with large cameras.

They were an odd bunch, though. Two were young girls, perhaps around 16, and two were older, foreign men. The men were heavy set, scowling, and didn't speak a single word to the girls. Nothing about them said "professional photographer." The girls were painfully thin, pale, and expressionless. They too never spoke a single word. In fact, in retrospect, the four of them seemed dead in some way. Lifeless, but walking and moving their bodies here and there.

And then, the shocking part began. Despite the weather, the girls undressed down to skimpy bikinis and right in front of my family, were lethargically splaying their bodies all over the sand and rocks to be photographed.

I was baffled, really. Neither of the swim suits looked new or fashionable, as if for a catalog. Neither of the girls ever smiled. And neither of them were very pretty. Yet, I was na├»ve enough to believe that they were engaged in some sort of low budget modeling deal, cheapening themselves on the sand in front of me. One girl knelt in the ice cold water, unflinching, still expressionless, holding the side of her bikini bottom out and low with her thumb. My stomach turned, seeing how young she was and knowing how much more than that she was worth.

I tried to walk my children away from the scene quickly, and soon after, we decided we were too cold to stick around.

But the impression of those two girls had been burned into my mind.

I now realize they were very likely victims of human trafficking. There were so many signs.

But why didn't I realize it? Why didn't I rush to the beach attendants and have them call the police? Why did I simply go home, fussing about the kids' baths and what we were having for dinner?

Not because I didn't know what it was, or that it was happening.

It's because I didn't expect evidence of human trafficking there. In Laguna Beach. Amongst some of the glossiest people in the world. On my favorite beach, no less, where my kids often searched the tide pools and I always brought an iced tea.

That's why. Because I was foolish enough to believe, for one moment, that modern day slavery wasn't around me, wasn't in my world.

I'm still sick to think I missed an opportunity to help those girls. I'm not sure what I could've done. But it would have been more than nothing.

We can't do more than nothing unless we ALL understand that slavery is around us. There is no place sin will not go, and so there is no place free from the impact of human trafficking. Not our neighborhoods, not our kid's schools, and not our favorite beaches.

I am not an expert on the subject, by any means. But today, as part of the End It Movement, I needed to share my experience in the hopes that you won't miss the signs like I did. We can't help end anything unless we aren't opening our eyes to what's real.

Please pray with me today for the 27 million modern day slaves worldwide, some of them in bikinis.
 


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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I'll just tell you. It's a post on sex. (part 5)



I was hesitant to embark on this little series on sex.

But after hearing from some of you on how it has helped start conversations that needed to be started and inspired effort where effort was lacking, I was so glad I listened to my heart and went for it. Even though I too have learned a lot from analyzing our issues with sex, we've only covered a small fraction of the possible topics. I'm in no way qualified to even try to cover all of them. Regardless, I hope and pray you've been able to connect and be encouraged by bits of what we have had a chance to cover.

In this last part, I had a few more things to share.

Lately, I've been reflecting on what it means to honor marriage itself. We often hear messages about husbands honoring wives or wives respecting husbands. But I am being reminded lately that marriage itself is a living parable for the world to see of the relationship between Jesus and his bride, the church (and by 'church', I mean the believers themselves). Marriage is meant to be a picture of Jesus' love for us. Broken Christian marriages show the world a faulty picture, that Jesus is not committed to us, that the love between God and man is conditional and unreliable. I know this is oversimplifying things, but my point is that marriage as a covenant is also deserving of honor. I read this verse recently:

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
Hebrews 13:4

It's an intense verse. God is not merely suggesting that marriage be honored, but requiring it, and says that honoring marriage is tied to sex. One way a couple honors the covenant of marriage is to have a healthy sex life. Interesting, isn't it? Sometimes it seems we in the Christian community believe that a good marriage is made up of a set of serious things. Communication. Compatibility. Common goals. Cohesive parenting. And if we have a good sex life too, well, that's like icing on the cake. Seems a lot of people might say, "Gosh, that's lucky if you have a good marriage AND have good sex too". In reality, God says that sex is a very important part of the cake itself. A healthy marriage can't do without it (barring the rare exceptions, of course, when long term circumstances prevent it). Sex is not a disposable hobby that a couple does together from time to time, like playing tennis; a healthy intimate connection is much more crucial to maintaining a healthy relationship.  

For me, the verse above helps me understand how much God really intends for us to enjoy sex. It implies that if we are not experiencing or at least pursuing a healthy sex life with our spouse, we are not honoring marriage. I mean, doesn't that tell us how high of a priority sex is to God? And a dishonored marriage has a difficult time being a strong one.

We can find so many encouragements in the Bible that apply to our sex lives. Here are my paraphrases.

Don't deprive each other. Meet each other's sexual needs. (I Cor. 7)

Consider one another better than yourselves. (Phil 2:3-4)

Unfaithfulness begins in the heart. (Matt 5:28)

Proverbs 5 and Song of Solomon contain some beautiful words regarding sexuality.

I'm guessing Satan is loving how many people are promoting His "Sex is bad, bodies are bad" campaign. I think it breaks God's heart to see His kids buy into those lies about His creation, His beauty. Particularly if you personally have experienced damage from others' messages about your body or your sexuality, make it your mission to change the course of those lies in your own parenting. Those lies need to crash and burn on the rocks of truth.

I haven't heard this series myself, but I know many (including my husband) who have enjoyed pastor Mark Driscoll's sermons based on the book of the Bible, Song of Solomon. I've heard Mark really extracts the nitty gritty from these Scriptures, a dialogue between two lovers, and he makes a bold case for awesome married sex that I'm guessing most of us have not heard from a pulpit before.

If' you're like me, you grew up hearing a lot more about what the Bible restricts, sexually, as opposed to what it allows and promotes. In fact, it seems to be a huge problem for the church: young people are told sex is bad, bad, bad, and then once they get married, they are expected to have a sudden change of heart. I believe that if we tell our children only negative things about sex and their bodies in an attempt to prevent them from making mistakes, we'll still harm them by omitting the purpose for sexuality and the beauty God intended us to find in it.

My aim, as my children age, is to explain that sex is awesome, but that it is designed to be experienced under certain circumstances that are chosen by God for our good. He knows how life works best. If we choose to go outside His plans, then we'll be hurt by our own sin. If we choose to follow His plans, then He will allow us to enjoy the goodness and blessings within His boundaries. But I will strive to err on the side of explaining how sex is designed to BLESS us and show us a bit of true intimacy in a way that is hard to find elsewhere, this side of heaven.


I'll end this series with a few creative ideas for your own marriage that I've heard around town.

1. The getaway jar: On your anniversary (or any date, really), start banking a few bucks into a jar each time you are intimate. Then, in one year, use the savings to take a romantic night or weekend away.

2. The incentive jar: This jar is pre-stocked with slips of paper, like coupons, containing ideas for fun grown up times. You decide whatever that means. The coupons can be from one person to another, or for both people to draw. The idea is that if a person is working towards a personal goal, let's say training for a marathon or trying to lose 20 lbs, he or she gets to draw a reward for hitting an incremental mark. In the examples above it may be for every 5 miles added to a running distance, or for every 3 pounds lost. If it's something you or your husband is going to work towards anyway, you may as well involve some fun rewards as you go.

3. Conversation: It doesn't sound sexy, but it's a good idea to push down your inhibitions with your spouse and open up the communication about your sex life, how it could be improved, raised in priority, how you feel it is honoring (or dishonoring) your marriage itself. And then talk about all the stuff that I can't write here. The fun stuff. Brainstorm. Have a glass of wine if you need to first. (wait, did I just say that?)

4. Field research: Especially if you didn't grown up in a Christian environment, expand your knowledge and understanding of God's ideas about sex by reading a book or listening to a series (like the Driscoll one above) together. There are several good books on healthy intimacy in marriage on sites like Christianbook.com. And nearly every good-sized church has sermons online for instant viewing by topic. I believe it is always a good idea to remain a student of truth and a student of your spouse in all areas, sex included.

5. Indoor date night: Give yourself permission to tell your kids (obvs if they're a capable age) that parenting time is over at bedtime (make it a tad early), and that you and daddy will be spending time together alone. They need to see that you prioritize one another, and that your family is not always kid-centric. Then lock your door and go on a date in your own room, whatever that entails. Netflix, popcorn, a board game, candles, cute PJs, yada yada.    

Well, I've had fun during this series. I hope you have too. I'd love to hear any stories, questions, or thoughts you've had in response. Feel free to email me if you'd like at Lnp0202@aol.com.

And hey. Thanks for reading.


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Monday, February 17, 2014

I'll just tell you. It's a post on sex. (the GUYS speak up)



This may be my favorite post yet in this series.

Friends, if you are like me, you have some assumptions about men and sex based largely on how the world portrays them. I've realized it's foolish to believe women are the only ones portrayed inaccurately in our culture in terms of sexuality. Guys are stereotyped too. And unfortunately, our insecurities as women feed into our readiness to take these stereotypes as truth. Maybe you don't even know you're buying into it. We all know women are objectified and stereotyped sexually in our culture. But do you realize men are too? Even married men have been basically reduced to heartless, self-centered, desire-driven beings, who are just looking for the next hot thing to look at.  

Well. He may not be the best communicator of how he really feels, but be prepared to have your beliefs challenged as to what may be going on inside your husband's mind and heart in regards to sex.

I asked a handful of husbands some questions pertaining to sex, and they came back with answers full of honesty, vulnerability, and tenderness. Just for some demographics, all these guys are in their 30s and 40s, all are dads of between 2 and 4 kids, and all have been married for a decade, some closer to two decades. These are not rookies when it comes to married life, parenting through various stages, and surviving many different seasons with their wives. And I believe their thoughts are more common than we women realize. Guys are simple; I'd be willing to bet your husband has had some of these same thoughts too (though he may rather be burned at the stake than share the same things with you face to face).

These few questions just scratch the surface of the issues involved in this topic. But please hear the heart behind these guys' words. What might it mean in your life if the same was true in your marriage? (And notice their prolific use of all caps and !!!! in question 3.)

+ + +

Question #1: In the area of intimacy, what is something you want your wife to know that you feel she is unaware or unsure of?

"I find you physically much more attractive than I did when we dated. I think you believe the lie that women's bodies are less attractive as they age. And I think you are unaware of the fact that I have sexual fantasies of you, and I might not know how to bring that up in a conversation."

"When I ask you what you need or what feels good or should I do something else, I really mean it. I want you to tell me what works and what doesn't. I am not insecure; I want every time we have sex to be moving forward and growing because we are communicating and learning. Tell me exactly what to do, or better yet, show me. Don't be afraid of hurting my feelings - in fact, it makes me feel loved when you communicate with me."

"Words of affirmation are on par with the actual physical part of intimacy for many men. We are much more sensitive than we let on, and your acknowledgement and affirmation of our status as husbands, lovers, fathers, providers, etc. goes a long way. Also our sex drive is very tied to our ego and self-esteem. We like to be wanted and needed, and your desire for physical intimacy helps fuel our egos and helps reassure our simple brains that we are loved."

"I'm 42 but I met you in high school. I know you are also 42 and a mother of 4. But my mental rolodex still sees my high school sweetheart. I don't want to be the married couple with 4 kids who just goes through the motions. I still want to make out. I still want to be like a young married couple who doesn't have kids and can have "crazy" sex. And believe it or not, I still get nervous when I take you out on a date. I want you at times to still be my girlfriend. I want you to want me....like I want you."


Question #2: What are some responsibilities you would be willing to relieve her of so she can make more space in her day/evening for intimacy? OR what responsibilities do you think she could "let slide" if it meant allowing her more time to relax/detox from the day in order to have more time and energy left for sex?

"This is a tricky one, as you are unable to relax if things are in a 'let it slide' status. Thus relieving you of responsibilities would be key. I'm willing to take on dinner, homework and bedtime routines; the challenge is being "checked in" as soon as I walk in the door. It is often hard to transition...it is serious crunch time when I walk in the door with four kids and all that it entails. The key for me is being a fully present "co-parent" during crunch time, which then allows you to keep your sanity and have fuel left in the tank for our evening."

"Laundry or making kids lunches."

"In our current season, it's not that I need to take anything off your plate; it is that I need not neglect you. I love what I do for my job, but I don't always know when to turn it off. In fact, just the other night, you were in bed next to me (with just one layer of clothing on), and instead of pursuing you, I worked on my laptop till midnight. You fell asleep, and I went on working. The next day, I repented for neglecting you and choosing work over you. This has been much more the norm in this season. The problem right now is me, not you."

"In seasons past, I would say I could take the role of bedtime off your plate. I love that you are a stay at home mom, but when bedtime comes around, you are ready for it. I could do a much better job at being fully engaged (not halfway, waiting for you to do the bulk of the work). I could be more intentional to take the helm and allow you to be in the role of hugging, kissing, and loving, rather than you needing to be the one making sure our three rowdy boys actually do what we asked."

"Late night chores like laundry. I would totally be willing to do some laundry. And as far as I am concerned, any chore can be thrown out the window if it means more energy for sex."


Question #3: What would you think or how would you feel if your wife kicked it up a notch in initiating and being more creative in your sex life?

"HECK YAH!!! I would love it if you would initiate the romance more often. That way I won't have those times of wondering if you are responding out of obligation instead of desire."

"Initiating would be amazing! Kicking it up a notch and using creativity would be icing on the cake. Did I say initiating would be amazing?!"

"KICK IT UP!!! I absolutely love the change of pace, the spark, the "Where did that come from?" excitement."

"Yes please! Every time you initiate with me, even in a little way, I feel deeply loved and desired. I would love our sex life to go up not just one notch, but a couple (dozen that is)! This excites me because I know it means we would be growing in our healing and trust while moving closer to a sex life that resembles God's original intent. And hey, let's get creative, but remember stretching is important...wouldn't want to pull a muscle."


Additional comments I thought needed to be shared:

"People think Christian, married sex has to be boring. God doesn't say it has to be 'shirt on, lights out, under covers, missionary...' Somehow we believe that good church people don't have "those" thoughts or do "those" things, when the fact is that we do have "those" thoughts and should do "those" things - with our spouse! I think that hot, married sex in our Christian marriages can help to cure the divorce rate."

"One action item would be for husbands and wives to have a fun topic of discussion on sexual fantasies with one another. I think that all men have them, but many don't know how to bring up the topic with their wives...when in fact, that is the exact person with whom they should bring it up."

"We have been on a journey for the last nine and half years of seeing our sex life become as pure, fun, intimate and free as it was originally intended to be. We both have somewhat checkered pasts. Because of this, we have had to fight for freedom from past choices and mindsets, believing what is true about each other, and releasing each other from unrealistic expectations."

"Pre-marital sex is an action that feels great, but it is just that - an action. There is nothing more to it. The intimacy is somewhere between non-existent and somewhat there, depending on the relationship. Today, as a married man, sex still feels great, but it is second to the intimacy that I have with my wife. It physically unites our bodies. It pulls us together."

+ + +

I don't know about you, but I am pretty moved by these guys' responses. I feel humbled for holding stereotypes over them that I didn't even know I had. I feel touched that they still see us as the girls with whom they fell in love, but improved versions! I feel encouraged to be a better communicator, and more free to let go of chores that can wait so that I can prioritize our relationship.  

Personally, I wonder: if my husband and I are not being "pulled together" regularly, then over time, aren't we drifting apart? My hope and prayer is that through this series, your passion for your marriage would be growing, and your desire to draw closer to your husband sexually would be increasing. Not because it should be, but because your understanding of who God created you to be, and what God created sex to be is becoming clearer. A great sex life with your husband, even if it seems a long way off, is so worth pursuing! Our husbands are so worth pursuing. I hope this post, offering a bit of insight into the minds of men, has helped you understand their side a little.

You know what? We are blessed that guys are so much simpler than we are. They just love us. They look past our flaws and think we're beautiful and sexy. And above all, they don't just want the physical part; they want to be loved and to genuinely grow closer to us.

Funny how being loved and growing closer to my husband is all I want too. I suspect we over-complicate sex. Often the most important things of life are also the simplest. When we brush away all the issues and look at sex the way God intended, it's pretty clear: Sex is good. It pulls us together. And it's part of what we were created for, what we both need. 

I hope you're having fun reading these posts. I am enjoying writing them. Feel free to share them with any married or engaged girlfriends you know who may be interested in our discussion. And as a closing reminder, your sex life with your husband is a journey, a multi-year, multi-season process. It takes communication and patience and effort on both sides. But I can't think of a journey, besides our spiritual one with the Lord, that is as fun and rewarding. So don't be afraid to kick it up a notch. You'll be glad you did.

As for your husband, I bet he'll start using all caps and !!!! as often as possible.


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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I'll just tell you. It's a post on sex. (part 3)



We ladies are super creative.

In my peer group (and if you're reading this, mine is likely to be yours as well), creativity is highly valued. Think about how our Christian lady-culture not only encourages, but oftentimes expects us to be creative in our meal planning, our organizing, our decorating, our party-throwing, our mothering, our clothing, our holiday celebrating, our gift giving...the list is endless. You've seen on Pinterest how there is no end to the page. Instead, you can scroll down forever and ever, feeling dizzied by the infinite uses for a mason jar.

But the encouragement to apply some of that creativity in the area of sex seems nonexistent. Isn't that strange? As creative as we are, that same encouragement from the online community for married ladies to have thriving sex lives is missing. I've seen countless ideas for encouraging our husbands through loving gestures, heard countless exhortations to respect them and read this or that marriage book and tell them we appreciate them. But there is very little positive peer pressure out there for married women to actually have good, enjoyable (as opposed to obligatory) sex.

That fact made me realize that Satan might just be winning the battle in this area. We know many of the ways he tempts men. It is no mystery that he is gaining tremendous ground in injuring healthy sexual relationships through all the inappropriate content accessible at any given moment. But he is tempting women in equally destructive, and I believe more subversive ways, some of which we talked about in part 2. The result is good, Christ-centered marriages that are struggling to maintain passionate (or even interesting) sex lives. Friends, I think most of us aren't even realizing we are in a battle at all. We're not even fighting to hold our ground in the area of intimacy. Fighting means firstly dealing with the issues we talked about in part 2. But secondly, we girls need to be aware that Satan would love for us to drift away from our husbands sexually. We are responsible for making an effort to stay connected.   

Good thing you are super creative! Here are some ways you can apply that in your fight.

1. Create some space.

I've learned that I don't feel very sexy if I haven't made some space for myself, a buffer between my responsibilities and my own person. It can mean different things for different people, but it helps to do something that enables us to feel sexy, or at least remember that we're still women (ie. not simply a mom, an employee, a caretaker....whatever role in which you spend the most time). This one is difficult. It may take some thought to come up with a few ideas that would help you make that space for yourself. I personally need some space away from my kids, even if only for twenty minutes. That means on a weekday, I may have to ask my husband to take over bedtime routines so I can hide in my room for a while and detox from the day. Creating space for ourselves to be mindful of our sexuality takes some intentionality. It never just happens, at least not in my house.

And then naturally, we need to create space in our schedules and in our hearts for sex to move up the priority list. I think that is true for nearly all of us. We can fight harder, friends, to hold onto intimacy in our marriages. And in order to do so, other priorities need to move down the list. Pray about that if you're unsure what things need to give way so that you can better create space (time/energy) for sex. And take it one day at a time. There's probably no need to look at the whole month and schedule sex; perhaps begin by examining your heart daily about it, and noticing the things that get in the way. Maybe that will help you isolate what has to change.


2. Create anticipation.

Something is always better if you've been excited about it for a while first. Well, what are some ways that you could create some alluring tension ahead of time? A suggestive post-it on the mirror or a note shoved in a coat pocket? Sexting (why shouldn't married couples be maximizing the techy flirting)? A little teasing at a time when or where nothing much else can happen? If your husband raises his eyebrows and looks at you with a "Wow, look at you, naughty vixen," that's a good sign that he'll be thinking about your future time together all day. I'm not saying you need to write out a 10-step scavenger hunt. Something simple will work.   


3. Create visuals.

Let's face facts. Men are visual. I once heard it said that most cannot help but keep a "visual rolodex" of appealing images in their heads. I want to be in there. In fact, I want to be headlining my husband's rolodex. And I'm determined to not let my insecurities get in the way of that. Putting effort into our guys being able to see something appealing (and goodness, they are so easy to please - don't forget that you are his first choice!) is so worth it. That means sex in the pitch dark after you've walked to bed in your college sweats doesn't count for this category. Also, I am not suggesting that we dress immodestly. I'm talking about times of intimacy only, for an audience of one, and giving them more, visually, to add to that rolodex. Remember, he still thinks you're super hot, even if you don't. An attitude of confidence, even if forced, even if you're feeling self-conscious, is always the sexiest thing you can put on.


4. Create memories.

Basically, this is a call to mix it up, to run fast in the other direction from being a half-interested, same-ol'-routine, how long is this going to take, wife. You are so very creative! I know you can list right now five ideas that would spice things up a little in your sex life. Think variations in outfits. Times of day. Rooms of the house. Length of time involved. Ambiance. I'm giving zero specifics because you know what works in your family schedule and relationship. You know what sounds fun to you or to your husband. You know each other's preferences better than anyone. Then, help root that memory of a spicy time by mentioning it later. Maybe the next day. Maybe in an email or a note. Create and then preserve that memory a little through conversation. It's almost the same as scrapbooking, right?


Personally, I am never inspired by the ideas presented in marriage books for elaborate "romantic evenings." They don't seem realistic. I think multiple-hour, candle-lit, rose-petal-strewn nights of love only exist in movies. I can't relate to that variety of intimacy, and I don't see how that fits into my every day life. MY reality is hoping to get a shower in between piano lessons and a dinner I have 20 minutes to prepare. MY reality is that I love my husband, but we don't see a whole lot of each other. We have limited time together, and most of it is late, when we're both tired. I need simple, inexpensive, and fun solutions for spicing up our sex life. A naughty text and a new pair of panties from TJ Maxx has come to appeal to me much more than 3 hours of pillow talk and waking up still wrapped in each other's arms. I'm betting my husband would say the same as well. Sure, there may be a time and place for such drawn out encounters. But I'd encourage you to keep things very simple. Very workable. Very fun and free, but easy to make happen.    

And since you're so creative, I know you will.


{One footnote...My new blog friend Autumn happened to write about sex on her blog too recently. I loved what she had to say, and she and her husband have experienced a lot of healing in their marriage in this area. It would be awesome if you'd visit her and support her boldness and vulnerability in sharing on this important but delicate subject of sex.}


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Thursday, February 06, 2014

I'll just tell you. It's a post on sex. (part 2)

 

Married Christians are (or should be) having the best sex on the planet.

It's a bold statement, I know. Here's another one.

If you are missing one of those things (a spouse, or a relationship with Jesus) it is impossible for you to be experiencing the sex life you were intended to have. If you have both those things, then in terms of your sex life, this is the best news ever. You have the potential to be a part of that club (the "best sex on the planet" one.)

And if you believe what the Bible says, and that following God's plans are what lead us to the most fulfilling and joyful life, you will agree. This goes way beyond the physical, by the way. Clearly some people, unmarried and/or unbelievers are having "good" sex out there in the world. But they have no idea what it is supposed to be like. I'm betting that if a single, non-believer having sex later became a married believer having sex, sin issues and baggage aside, they would say there is no comparison to the feelings of love, connection, intimacy, security, freedom, and fulfillment available in the latter. By design, there is a powerful, supernatural component in sex that you simply cannot experience unless you are having it within God's plans for mankind. That's part of the reason that sex outside of God's plans is extra problematic. At it's core, sex is spiritual.

Of course that doesn't mean we're all living out the ideal scenario. Like I said in Part 1, many believing, married women and moms I know have only occasional half-interest, apathy, or worse when it comes to sex. I'm seeing there is a huge chasm between what God has designed for us and what we actually experience. And that fact has begun to grieve me to the point that I am pushing aside the voices that would say, "You can't blog about that!" and stepping into that gap with some thoughts. We need to think about this, ladies. Please join me in coming out from behind the twenty-five standard excuses and logical reasons for why you are stuck on the other side of the chasm. And together, let's work out our faith.

Yes, I do believe at the root, healthy sex starts with faith.

I read this verse this morning, I John 4:16:

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.

It's clear that knowing God loves us and believing the love He has for us are two different things.

You may have come to know God loves you, but have you come to believe it, really? We will not be able to move towards God's best for us in our sex lives unless we believe a few things first.

1. God loves you. Don't just know it in your head. Believe it, continually, in practice, in your every day thoughts and feelings. It looks like this: when you truly believe God loves you and wants to take care of you, you will invite Him into the baggage, the resistance, the weariness, the fear, ALL the issues you have in the area of sex. When you truly believe He loves you, you will open up your heart to the idea that He has more in store for you. More than you can even imagine. Believing He loves you means you are constantly fueled with hope.

2. God can do what He says He can do. If you have deeper stuff, a painful history in this area, brokenheartedness, guilt and shame, I am here to tell you without wavering that God longs to heal you. It's all over the Bible. God is a Healer. Even if your only prayer is the two small words, "Help me, Lord," it is enough to allow Him to begin wrapping you in His powerful, capable, healing hands. He wants to turn your ashes into beauty. He wants to leave you speechless at the great and miraculous things He will do in your heart, mind, and body. Matthew 19:26 quotes Jesus as saying, "All things are possible for him who believes." All things. I realize it takes faith to believe this. But you can do it.

3. Sex is an awesome privilege, opportunity for great pleasure, and source of supernatural joy. If your own version of the sentence starting with, "Sex is...." does not somehow sound like that, then you need a paradigm shift. I'd encourage you to write out what comes to mind when you start with, "Sex is...." Be honest. Start with your raw emotions and impressions of sex right now, this week, in your life. Because if your sentence is something like, "Sex is a chore at the bottom of my list of things to do," even if you wholeheartedly believe 1 and 2 above, you'll stay stuck. Pray about your feelings and beliefs about sex itself, if you need to. Ask God to give you His eyes for sex if yours are blinded to what it really is and can be.


And lastly, I wanted to say this. In this series, I will not ever tell you that men need sex more than women so you should just have it to serve your husband. You can read any number of Christian books that say that. Of course, men and women have physical differences. But the truth is that we are ALL created to be sexual beings. All of us are designed to have awesome sex, though 'awesome' may be defined differently for men and women.

I really don't believe women have difficulty serving others so that they need to be instructed in this way; generally, I don't see selfishness as the root of our resistance or lack of desire for sex. Isn't it the exact opposite? Aren't women naturally serving and nurturing others all day long? Yet the Christian community seems to keep playing that tune, telling women we just need to serve. The message should not be, "Well, even if you don't want to, do it anyway because that's loving," but "If you don't want to, let's look at the reasons; let's seek the truth about who you are and who God created you to be."

I believe the issue of desire has almost NOTHING to do with our husbands. It has to do with us, and our lack of knowledge or belief about who God created us to be and why (if you're quietly blaming your husband in some way that is causing you to be on the other side of the chasm, please search that out with the Lord too). Yes, once in a great while, I choose to give way to my husband's desires for sex that I may not feel at the moment, and putting his needs first IS serving him in love. But others promoting sex as first and foremost an act of service, at least for women, is just encouraging dysfunction. I believe it is far more relevant and motivating to help women understand that sex is designed for both people to be engaged in and enjoying it. And if there are barriers to desire, then those need to be examined.

I hope you're still with me! I know this was a heavy post. But if we're going to ever get to the fun part, we need to face and invite God into the confusion and pain and baggage that sex often brings with it first. Chin up, my friend. God is so excited to show you what He can do. Trust Him.

I'm so glad we're walking this road together.


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Tuesday, February 04, 2014

I'll just tell you. It's a post on sex. (part 1)

(chalkboard art by my big girl)

To those of you who are the biggest fans of my blog, yes I'm talking to you, dearest parents and in-laws (you know who you are!) please sit this one out. I'm serious, just click over to Words with Friends or watch the Super Bowl replays one more time. I'm not going to say anything inappropriate, but I'm trying to inspire my fellow lady friends here seeing that it's the month of love, and I would just rather you move right along and skip this series. Ok? Ok. Thank you.

I've been thinking a lot about this quote:

"In the area of sex, before you're married, Satan is on a mission to get you to have it. After you're married, he is on a mission to get you to stop."

There's something to this. And I wonder how many of us, myself included, fully understand the power of a healthy sexual relationship inside of marriage. I think it's more likely that we have witnessed or felt the damage from the perversion of what sex was meant to be outside of marriage, be it through previous relationships, abuse, pornography, or any number of other ways the world misuses sex. Well, it wasn't meant to be this way.

I think it's clear to most of us who believe in and strive to follow what the Bible says that God has a very specific plan for sexuality, and it is to be within the confines of marriage. Everything outside of that is not in our best interest, in any way. God says so. Bodies, minds, hearts...all these stay healthiest when we keep sex inside marriage.

But how many couples arrive at marriage with clean slates in this department? I understand that God's forgiveness can make us spiritually clean from anything we've done in the past. Anything. But that doesn't mean that we don't still have baggage, issues affecting or impeding our sexuality. Or our spouse does. Or both people in a marriage do. Sin and its fallout makes intimacy and relationship and especially marriage complicated. Sex, being the most vulnerable point in marriage, the place where our bodes, minds, and hearts are most exposed, is usually most crippled by the complications.

Sex is a tricky business, and I don't claim to understand all the issues that a person can bring to a marriage. But I do understand this: God designed us to be totally sexually free in marriage. He designed sex to be the best earthly representation of his passion and intimate love for us, and He wants us to get that. He wants to bless our marriages through sex, and He wants us to think sex is awesome.

Does it sound weird? That if you're married, the God of the universe, perfectly holy and pure and watching every move you make, strongly desires for you to LOVE sex? Are you willing to wrap your mind around that? It's the truth.

But what is going on, here? God is over here on the matter, wanting us to experience regular joy and blessing and ridiculous pleasure through sex, and we are way down at the other end of the spectrum just trying to muster up any desire in the first place. What I've observed during these last several years of being a wife and mother is that the majority of us do NOT love sex. In MOPS meetings, I've heard tables of women complain and sigh and refer to sex as something a little less desirable than having a clean kitchen. I know there are 101 reasons why that may be true and reasonable in a given household. I know. Don't list them off in the comments as defense. I am only trying to say one thing.

We can do better than this.

We can love better than this.

And we need to let ourselves BE loved better than this (and I don't mean by our husbands).

Part 2 is coming soon, so keep your knickers on.


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